Ohio racks up insured losses from past November and early January storms

StormSign(COLUMBUS) Feb. 27, 2014 – With just weeks away from spring, Ohio insurers tally up losses from a November tornado outbreak and nasty bone-chilling winter storms that started off the new year. According to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), these represent the 11th and 12th major natural disasters to hit Ohio since 2011 (see Ohio’s winter and wind/hail loss histories for event recaps).

NOVEMBER 17-18, 2013 OUTBREAK
Straight-line winds, tornadoes and rain moved across Ohio on November 17, 2013. Peak wind gusts of 85 mph were reported in Hardin, Pickaway and Fairfield counties according to the National Weather Service (NWS)-Wilmington. NWS preliminary reports show 136 tornadoes occurred during the November outbreak affecting multiple states, including two EF2 and two EF1 tornadoes in Ohio.
OII reports nearly $54 million in preliminary insured losses based on its member company storm survey representing about 3/4 of the Ohio private passenger auto and homeowners markets and 1/3 of the commercial market (see detail report below).
Property Claim Services (PCS) estimates total insured losses at $833 million from the November 17-18 outbreak affecting Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, with Ohio insured losses at $39.3 million.
     Insurance industry estimates do not include losses involving uninsured property or flood-related losses, some of which are covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.
     “Not all insurance companies are represented by OII’s survey or PCS findings. The range of $39.3-54 million is the industry’s best guesstimate at this time,” said OII President .

OII preliminary Nov. 17 storm loss estimates
26 property/casualty insurance companies participated in the OII Nov. 17-18 windstorm survey. They represent nearly 77 percent of Ohio’s personal auto market, over 72 percent of the homeowners insurance market and over 30 percent of Ohio’s commercial lines market based on 2012 Ohio market share figures. Initial insurance company claims estimates ranged from one to 4,500. Insured losses reported by companies varied from $5,000 to nearly $20 million.
• Claim estimates to date: 9,470
            • Homeowners:  8,529                    • Auto: 1,083              • Business: 356
• Loss estimates to date: $53,970,071
            • Homeowners: $43,330,249        • Auto: $2,799,487    • Business: $7,805,335
Note: Loss estimates do not add up to the total amount. Not all insurers provided dollar losses by policy type.
     OII survey findings show that the majority of claims reported to-date (90 percent) pertain to homeowners or renters insurance. Most losses pertained to high winds and water damaging roofs, gutters, ceilings and walls. Water back-up and business interruption claims due to power outages were also reported by some insurers. 

JANUARY POLAR VORTEX
Frigid temperatures along with ice, heavy snow and high winds created a myriad of winter-related losses across the eastern two-thirds of the US, January 5-8, 2014. According to NWS-Wilmington, Ohio temperatures hit new lows in several cities including Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. Wind chills registered as low as -49 on January 7. NWS-Cleveland also reported record lows in several cities including Cleveland, Toledo and Youngstown.
Preliminary insured losses in Ohio from the January polar vortex are estimated between $97.8-124.4 million. OII reports nearly $98 million in insured losses based on its member company storm survey representing about 3/4 of the Ohio private passenger auto and homeowners markets and 1/3 of the commercial market (see detail report below).
Property Claim Services estimates show preliminary insured losses in Ohio at $124.4 million. Overall insured loss estimates from the January polar vortex affecting 17 states, according to PCS, currently stand at over $1.5 billion. Georgia, New Jersey and Ohio reported the highest estimated insurance payouts.
     The differences in claims and insured loss estimates in Ohio from the two organizations are due to the variance in companies participating in each survey. As a result, estimates are reported as a range.

OII preliminary January storm loss estimates
26 property/casualty insurance companies participated in the OII January winter storm survey. They represent nearly 77 percent of Ohio’s personal auto market, over 72 percent of the homeowners insurance market and over 30 percent of Ohio’s commercial lines market based on 2012 Ohio market share data from the Ohio Department of Insurance. Initial insurance company claims estimates ranged from three to 4,880. Insured losses reported by companies varied from $5,900 to over $26 million.
• Claim estimates to date: 14,748
            • Homeowners: 12,959                           • Auto: 305                   • Business: 1,484
• Loss estimates to date: $97,815,039
           • Homeowners: $76,146,856                 • Auto: $487,131          • Business: $21,181,052
Note: Loss estimates do not add up to the total amount. Not all insurers provided dollar losses by policy type.
     OII survey findings show that the majority of claims reported to-date (about 88 percent) pertain to homeowners or renters insurance. Insurers noted weather-related losses that included frozen pipes and related water damage, ice build up and wind-related damages.
Based on OII’s winter history reports, this is likely Ohio’s second costliest winter storm from an insured loss standpoint since 1993. This does not include the “Blizzard of ‘78” which is likely the costliest in recent times. Exact Ohio losses from this storm are not available.

COMMON LOSSES AND COVERAGE
Most property damage related to high winds, hail and snow/ice/freezing are covered by insurance. Expenses incurred when taking measures to protect against further damage (such as placing plastic/tarp over a damaged roof, covering windows to prevent further water damage, etc.) are usually reimbursable under homeowners insurance. OII advises saving these receipts for claims filing.
Deductibles apply to auto, homeowners and commercial claims. OII recommends obtaining repair estimates prior to filing a claim when you suspect the damage is close to your deductible.
Damage from flooding is excluded from standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies. Flood insurance coverage normally can be purchased through a separate policy for homes and businesses. Coverage is separate for the building (structure) and its contents. Licensed property/casualty insurance agents can sell flood insurance. NFIP’s agent referral program is available at www.floodsmart.gov or call 888-379-9531 for coverage assistance.
Insured storm-covered perils include:
• Property damage hail, high winds and flying debris: Homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies cover damage caused by high winds, tornadoes and hail. Homes or belongings damaged as a result of a fallen tree – whether it is your tree or a neighbor’s tree – are covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
• Property losses from frigid temps that result in frozen pipes, ice dams and other winter-related losses.
• Vehicle coverage: Vehicles damaged by hail, flooding or high winds are normally covered under the “other-than-collision” (also known as “comprehensive”) portion of an auto insurance policy. This is optional coverage that protects insured vehicles in situations other than a collision or overturn.
• Power failure: While homeowners policies differ, food spoilage is normally excluded if the cause of loss is an off-premises power outage. Limited coverage may be added by endorsement.
• Basement water backup: Coverage for water backup in basements (drains/sewers) is excluded from flood insurance and most homeowners insurance policies. However, this coverage is available by endorsement on many homeowners insurance policies. Check with your insurance provider as details and coverage varies by company.

REPAIR TIPS
OII urges Ohioans to consider hiring licensed Ohio contractors to repair damages.
“Ultimately, homeowners are responsible for the roofer or home contractor of their choice. We caution them to check for proper licensing, references and referrals to help prevent problems down the road,” said Kelso.
To protect against the possibility of contractor fraud, see OII’s home repair tip sheet.
OII is a trade association representing insurance companies and agent groups for Ohio’s property/casualty industry. Its main objective is to increase understanding of insurance and related safety issues.

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Online resources
• OII winter storm history through January 2014
• OII wind/hail storm history through December 2013
• ISO interactive map: Insured losses from natural disasters by state
OII home repair tip sheet
• Insurance Information Institute “Trees and Insurance
Property Claim Services

Contacts
Dean Fadel: 614.228.1593